2005/12/31

So It's Not The America You Think You Know - Deal With It!

This will be my last post for the year because I'm going to get something off of my chest, and afterwards I won't have the energy to do more.

On Monday Robert Steinback wrote an opinion piece for the Miami Herald that got picked up and repeated ad nauseam all over the Blogsphere. Even prominent left-leaning sites like Salon and Smirking Chimp reprinted it. The gist was that Mr. Steinback feels blindsided by all the illegal, unconstitutional, immoral acts that the Bush administration engages in under the guise of fighting the so-called War on Terror. He moans and whines about this being, "No America that I know," and Boing Boing, for their part, calls it "stirring".

You know what I call it: Self-indulgent, hand-wringing bullshit that comes at least three god-damned years too late! The signs that America had fundamentally changed were all around us way before 9/11, and anyone who couldn't see them was either a moron or a member of the administration.

On December 12, 2000, the day the Supreme Court improperly stopped the vote recount in Florida, we should have known that the judiciary was no longer acting to defend the Constitution but rather acting in their own interest, and some of us (not Mr. Steinbeck apparently) did.

We may not have know exactly how Bush would choose to abuse his authority, but on September 21, 2001 when he announced in a speech to the nation, "...you are either with us or with the terrorists," some of us sure as shit knew that he would.

We may not have known how thoroughly Congress would abdicate it's role as a check on the unrestrained exercise of executive power, but on the October 25, 2001 the day the USA Patriot Act passed the Senate, without a proper reading, no time for review, and almost no debate many of us knew that they would.

I think that Mr. Steinback is just another sniveling press hack who writes OpEd's in order to sell papers at any cost while the republic burns. I think that the America he sees is made up of sheep willing to trade liberty for security. I think that there is a whole different America out there, one made up of liberals, patriots, and yes, even bloggers who saw the signs and insisted on doing something about it. But now the question is, can we do more than bleat repeatedly into our world-wide-echo-chamber? There must be something more. Musn't there?

I'm tired now and am going to stop for a bit. Maybe with the coming of the new year, I'll be refreshed. Here's to hoping.

2005/12/30

On Behalf of BlairWatch...

This has been reposted on behalf of BlairWatch. The documents in question have been hosted on Blognonymous to give them a repository outside of the UK and include telegrams and communications between Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, and the Foreign Office. They detail the UK's use of intelligence gained through torture and Murray's complaints on the subject until he was forced from his post by Jack Straw.

Telegrams
npapaer

In the words of BlairWatch:
It's not the al-Jazeera Memo, but these are some more documents that the
UK Government are trying to supress with the threat of prosecution under
the Official Secrets Act. They detail our use of intelligence extracted
by torture, and legal advice the Foreign Office received on the subject,
and we need to get them out there as soon as possible before the
government act.
BlairWatch's latest post on the subject can be found here.

2005/12/29

Truth Sometimes Shreds Fiction

Picture the scene: The man, a West Texas native, sits with his Minnesotan wife in a darkened theater. A Coen brother's crime thriller plays on the screen. Toward the end, a policewoman moves cautiously toward the back of a snowbound house where she hears a sound, like a chainsaw on steroids. The wife, looking puzzled, whispers to the husband, "That sounds like a chipper-shredder." He replies, aghast, "What's a chipper-shredder?!"

The man and his wife were the frogette and myself. The movie was Fargo, and you know the rest... Yesterday in Colorado, it happened for real. Eeeeewwwwww! That's a horrible way to go.

NSA Bakes Cookies

From the f-A-ke. P. -

In a flagrant violation of government policy, it was revealed yesterday that NSA has been spying on bazillions of unsuspecting Americans by setting persistent cookies with unusually long expiration times in the browsers of visitors to the agency's website. An NSA spokesperson said that the cookies were harmless and that it was all the result of a prank played by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on agency director Hayden. But when asked why the cookies were named echelon and total-information-awareness, NSA's representative replied, "No comment."

2005/12/28

The President's Reading List

In the most overrated story of the week we find out that, on his upcoming vacation, President Neuman will be reading a volume about Theodore Roosevelt after his presidency, and two things pop into our minds here at Blognonymous. First, Bush might want to try something a little more timely and less focused on his legacy considering that he's up to his eyes in the shit right now, and second...WHO THE F**K CARES!

Jeez! Google is listing 123 instances of this dreck. No wonder the demise of the MSM is supposedly right around the corner. Arrrrggggghhhhhh! But I bet we can do better. So how about it? Anybody have any reading suggestions for the Prez?

More Tempting Than a Diebold Voting Machine

Though the TSA is going forward with their Registered Traveler program, private firms such as Verified Identity Pass Inc. are moving even faster. With trails at two US airports and more in the queue, this company is registering flyers who exchange their fingerprints and iris scans for express passage through airport security.

Steven Brill, VIP Inc. president, calls this the Volunteer Credentialing Industry. I call their systems and databases the most tempting hacker targets since the Diebold electronic voting machine.

2005/12/27

Your Eyes, The Ultimate Analog Hole

From the f-A-ke P. -

Before adjourning for the holiday recess, a new piece of legislation was introduced by Representatives James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R. WI) and John Conyers (D. MI) that would, in the words of MPAA chairman Dan Glickman, "...ensure that the pirating of digital content is stopped once and for all."

The Visual/Aural Sense Security Enforcement Scheme of 2005 (commonly know as V-A-SSES 2005) would require that all Americans be fitted with an MPAA designed micro-chip that would cut off an individual's sense of sight in the presence of images containing a content protection sequence. When asked about the possible ill affects of suddenly going blind, for instance while driving, Mr. Glickman replied, "It's a small price to pay for the wonderful world of digital content that will be available to all Americans once we can protect the rights of the MP--I mean the artists." Glickman further suggested that if Americans would just register their credit-cards with the MPAA, then automatic payments would ensure that no one need ever go blind in order to protect copyright holders.

Congressmen Sensenbrenner and Conyers could not be reached for comment, but members of Mr. Sensenbrenner's staff, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the f-A-ke P that members of Congress would, of course, be exempt from the act's provisions since they frequently have to view protected content in the course of their official duties.

2005/12/26

Watch NSA Watching You

Worried about NSA scanning your email? Well Richard Smith, the well known online privacy advocate, has an excellent set of suggestions for anyone interested in "watching the federal watchers".

Read it for yourself, but the short of it is: You set up a pair of email addresses, one foreign, one domestic. Then send yourself emails filled with terrorist code words and a link to a private website on which you have web-stats enabled. Catch someone surfing the site, and bingo! You've just nabbed the Feds. Course, you might also get an unfriendly knock on your door.

Whither the Intermission

OK, I'm not here to discuss King Kong. Though I saw Kong on Christmas Eve and reviewed it here, I want to hit a closely related topic: Whatever happened to the movie intermission?

Used to be, when a BIG movie made it to the silver screen, there would be an intermission to allow you to grab some fresh popcorn, stretch your legs, and most importantly, take a leak. Jackson's Kong is a bladder clenching 3 hours and 15 minutes long. That's 195 minutes, boys and girls, and it's a long haul if you haven't managed to hit the head in the 5 minutes before the picture starts, deprived yourself of liquids for the duration, and managed to slip in a little nap before curtain time. (Read fashiongirl's tips for surviving such an ordeal here.)

Comparing Kong to some other famous films of similar duration...Spartacus, Kubrick and Douglas' gladiatorial epic from 1960s, clocks in at 196 minutes. And what do we find? Yup...an intermission, complete with bombastic music and 15 minutes of pee time. How about David Lean's Dr. Zhivago? 197 minutes, slightly better music, and an intermission with pretty scenery.

So what should this tell us? Probably that Hollywood feels pretty threatened by the notion of an intermission. Maybe they're afraid that once we're out of the theatre we'll conclude, "This movie blows! I'm going home." Seems pretty short-sighted to me because the next time I see a 190 minute film advertised, I'm probably gonna give some serious consideration to just getting it from Netflix. At least at home the popcorn is fresh, the bathroom is 5 steps from the couch, and most importantly I control the remote.

2005/12/25

I Am Not A Schnook

I am not a schnook."I am not a schnook."

Blognonymous says, Merry Christmas everyone!
Now stop reading this blog and go kiss your spouse, play with your kids, or something.

2005/12/24

War on Christmas? Phooey - A War on Presents!

Not content with their successes in the War on Christmas (TM), evangelicals have stated that their next battle will be against the commericialism that pervades the season. The conservative American Family Association is suggesting that adults not give each other gifts next year. Tim Wildmon, association president said, "We want people to get back to what Christmas should be about," and suggested that comsumer cash be donated to charities, preferably one's that have "Christian values". Oddly though, he exempted children. Perhaps anticipating an outcry that would be heard from space.

Well, at Blognonymous we say, "Why wait!?" It's 8:30 am here in the Left Coast Blognon-y-hutch. That means that there are still 5 hours of return time left for you east coasters--a whole 8 hours for us here in Babylon by the Bay. Get those presents returned now! Sure your spouse will scream, the kids will cry, and your dog will howl, but won't you feel better knowing that you took all that ready cash and donated it to the needy?

The time has come for a war on presents!

2005/12/23

Can The Fatwa Be Far Behind?

A fatwa on my niece!Osama bin Laden's Niece, As Photographed for GQ Magazine

Blongnonymous asks: Will she be our Salman Rushdie?

Santa Clause Will Take You To Hell

Apparently the "God Hates Fags" cabal of the Westboro Baptist Church (don't click this while you're eating breakfast) are dispensing holiday cheer by updating some Christmas classics. Here's their rendition of Santa Clause Will Take You To Hell (sung to the tune of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town"):
Don't leave your kids with this red fright
Just like the priests he'll rape them at night
Santa Claus will take you to hell
You tell the children he is real
You know that's just a lie
To justify your own vile sins
That's the only reason why
So get this fact straight
You're feeling God's hate
Santa's to blame for this nation's ill fate
Santa Claus will take you to hell
Catchy huh? Only thing is, I just can't make the words fit. I think the WBC folks should probably stick with their day jobs...picketing the funerals of gay murder victims and stuff like that.

Hat tip to Good as You.

In Economic News...Stox (?)

As reported in the NY Daily News (by people who can't spell):
Jobs data give stox a lift
Maybe they meant to say, "Jobs data give sox a lift". I know that I'm planning to buy more "sox" this year after bankrupt energy supplier, Calpine, requested to withdraw from four contracts that supply California with power.

Gettin' mighty cold on this wind and rain swept rock that I call home.

2005/12/22

The Kowboy Koward of Krawford

We have a winner in the "Shrub Needs a Better Nickname" Contest and it's Alicia's -
    Kowboy Koward of Krawford
2nd place goes to Rex Kramer, Danger Seeker's -
    Spurious George
And a special judge's prize goes to The Heretik's Ill Douche Bag which we all thought was as funny as sin but wouldn't stand the test of time.

My thanks to everybody who participated and especially to my very fair and fair-minded co-judges, HelenWheels and Enigma4ever.

Ohio Gets Its Own Little Patriot Act

Drew of Weapon's of Mass Distraction gives us the head's up on the Ohio Patriot Act, a pernicious little piece of legislation that has recently landed on Governor Taft's desk. Though it resembles it's bigger brother in most respects, it has one additional gem: A provision making it a crime to fail to provide your name, address, and birthdate to law enforcement whenever asked. In other words, if the police decide to take down names at a rally, you either provide it or get arrested. Get stopped in the grocery store looking suspicious and it's, "Paper's please!"

Interestingly, this bill passed the two houses of the Ohio legislature with overwhelming, in fact veto-proof, support. Better hope that his bill doesn't become a model for bills all over the US the way the DMCA did.

2005/12/21

McPherson Puts the Kibosh on Diebold in California

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson refused to recertify Diebold's optical-scan and touchscreen voting machines pending a Federal investigation to determine if the memory cards are tamper resistant. These same cards were "hacked" during a recent test in Florida resulting in Leon, Co. throwing Diebold out.

McPherson has also stipulated that voting machine source-code be submitted to Federal testing authorities before another application for recertification can even be submitted. This last part may be a critical issue that will keep Diebold out of California permanently since they exited the North Carolina market rather than allow their source code to be examined.

Now Californians need to hope that federal test are impartial and thorough.

Graver threat, broader powers? Not!

As usual Bruce Schneier doesn't weigh in on an issue until all sides have had their say, but when he does, he hits the nail on the head. On the issue of Unchecked Presidential Power, he has this to say in response to John Yoo's bizarre reasoning -
Yoo starts by arguing that the Constitution gives the president total power during wartime. He also notes that Congress has recently been quiescent when the president takes some military action on his own, citing President Clinton's 1998 strike against Sudan and Afghanistan.

Yoo then says: "The terrorist incidents of September 11, 2001, were surely far graver a threat to the national security of the United States than the 1998 attacks. ... The President's power to respond militarily to the later attacks must be correspondingly broader."

This is novel reasoning. It's as if the police would have greater powers when investigating a murder than a burglary.
The article is a gem. Go and read it.

2005/12/20

Want To Secure America? First Secure the EXPLOSIVES!

400 lbs. of high explosive gone--A heist consisting of 150 pounds of C-4, 250 pounds of explosive in thin sheets (letter bombs?), and 2,500 detonators. A professional job, where the perps used blowtorches to cut into unsecured storage trailers at a company called Cherry Engineering where apparently there are no cameras and no guards!

Want to secure America? First secure the explosives! Throw some government money at the problem and lock up the C-4 in something other than a trailer! Mother-puss-bucket! Are the people at Homeland Security completely clueless? Here's a newsflash pin-heads. Nobody has the right to shoot C-4 our of their rifles. So lock-it-the-f*ck-up!

The "Shrub Needs a Better Nickname" Contest

Stacy (Cafe Politico) did an excellent post recently on the administration's Machiavellian attempt to prevent a SCOTUS review of the Padilla case. Now with new revelations that Bu$hCo tried to kill the NSA surveillance story, I got to thinking about other great manipulators of the office of the president.

All of these sort of men had one thing in common, a great nickname. "Tricky Dick". "Slick Willie". Certainly better nicknames than "shrub". So I think that it's about time that we gave G.W. a nickname befitting his stature. Thus, I leave it to you my dear readers.

Send 'em in and I'll announce a winner in a few days. Though Blognonymous has little to offer how about a guest post linked to your own blog as a prize, with our-not quite, but pretty close to--eternal gratitude thrown in for good measure. :-)

And here we have the winners!

Attempt to Balkanize the 9th Circuit Blocked

Real quick...the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that Republican plans to break up the 9th Circuit have stalled in the Senate-dropped from the budget bill apparently.

If true, this will certainly put a crimp in the right's plans to remake the Federal courts.

[Requisite insertion of the word California to make sure leftyblogs.com picks this up.]

2005/12/19

One Third of America Wants Bush Impeached

 

 

The Democratic underground is reporting on a Rasmussen poll that claims 32% of Americans want Bush impeached and removed from office. Astounding. Bush's approval rating, 37% according to ABC, and his "impeachment" rating are closing in on each other.

 

 

In contrast, few polls ever showed support for impeaching Bill Clinton reaching above 26% percent, and this while he contended with an insanely hostile Congress and media. And how about Clinton's approval ratings? They soared into the 70% range.

 

 

Clinton's numbers diverged. Bush's converge. What does it mean? How about: The American public is sick to death of Bu$hCo bullsh*t.

ADT - The Barbarians Guard the Gates

We recently received this jolly holiday missive from a California ADT franchise...

    As you may know, your home at one time had an active ADT system. Now is a great time to reactive your ADT system before your holiday week starts. Fact is more home are break-in to during this time of year, so before you leave for you holiday vacation, or start raping your present. I would like to give you this great opportunity, for as little as a dollar a day we will protect your home. Now until December 30 2005, I will wave your reactivation fees, my complimentary gift to you. I would like to help in anyway I can to help protect your home before disaster strikes. The fact is 1 out of every 5 homes will experience a Burglary, Fire or Carbon Monoxide Poisoning within the next 6 years--even in good neighborhoods.
Blognonymous would like to state categorically, that we are not in the habit of raping our presents, Christmas, Holiday, or otherwise.

2005/12/18

Feds To Rebuild The Levees With Real Money This Time

On Thursday Bu$hCo finally revealed their compassionate new dea--I mean--conservativism by announcing 1.5 billion dollars to rebuild New Orleans' levee system. By the weekend that figure had increased to 3.1 billion, about...80,000% more than the paltry 3.9 million that Bu$hCo had planned to spend in fiscal 2005.

At this point it might be worth looking back on the Army Corp of Engineers original plan to reinforce the levees around Lake Pontchartrain, a 750 million behemoth that in 2003, when funding slowed to a trickle, was only 4/5 complete. Now Bu$hCo is proposing to spend more than twice the amount that was required for the Lake Pontchartrain project and SELA (another Corp project to strengthen the levees and pumping systems).

Should we rebuild the levees? Of course. New Orleans is the port for export of US agricultural products. But it bears repeating that if the administration had simply finished the job the first time, it might have saved the American people about 2 billion dollars. Guess we needed that money for the war in Iraq. Wonder why we suddenly don't need it now?

Bu$hCo Statecraft - "We're At War, So Anything Goes"

On CNN last night, a surreal conversation took place between Wolf Blitzer, former Representative Bob Barr and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R. 46th District of California). In the space of less than two minutes Rep. Rohrabacher demonstrated exactly what is wrong with the right and their reaction to Bu$hCo's illegal use of NSA for domestic surveillance.
BARR: Well, gee, I guess then the president should be able to ignore whatever provision in the Constitution as long as there's something after the fact that justifies it.

BARR: Bob, during wartime, you give some powers to the presidency you wouldn't give in peace time. Do we have a declaration of war, Dana?

ROHRABACHER: You don't have to do that.

BARR: We don't? That makes it even much easier for a president.

ROHRABACHER: No, you just have to make sure that the people of the United States understand that we are at war. They understand that al Qaeda slaughtered 3,000 of our citizens -- more people than the Japanese slaughtered at Pearl Harbor.
Apparently the Constitution is irrelevant as long as one can convince the public that they're being protected during a time of war, but an actual declaration...again irrelevant.

Then Rohrabacher demonstrates his approval for actions which are probably illegal:
BARR: Here again, this is absolutely a bizarre conversation where you have a member of Congress saying that it's okay for the president of the United States to ignore U.S. law, to ignore the Constitution, simply because we are in an undeclared war.

The fact of the matter is the law prohibits -- specifically prohibits -- what apparently was done in this case, and for a member of Congress to say, oh, that doesn't matter, I'm proud that the president violated the law is absolutely astounding, Wolf.

ROHRABACHER: Not only proud, we can be grateful to this president. You know, I'll have to tell you, if it was up to Mr. Schumer, Senator Schumer, they probably would have blown up the Brooklyn Bridge. The bottom line is this: in wartime we expect our leaders, yes, to exercise more authority.

Now, I have led the fight to making sure there were sunset provisions in the Patriot Act, for example. So after the war, we go back to recognizing the limits of government. But we want to put the full authority that we have and our technology to use immediately to try to thwart terrorists who are going to -- how about have a nuclear weapon in our cities?

BARR: And the Constitution be damned, Dana?

ROHRABACHER: Well, I'll tell you something, if a nuclear weapon goes off in Washington, DC, or New York or Los Angeles, it'll burn the Constitution as it does. So I'm very happy we have a president that's going to wiretap people's communication with people overseas to make sure that they're not plotting to blow up one of our cities.
Notice how Rohrabacher not only gets in a gratuitous dig on Senator Schumer, but raises the spector of the unthinkable.

This is a classic example of Bu$hCo statecraft. Scare the public into believing that the threat is grave and that we must sacrifice liberty for security, and then use that position to justify...well...anything, everything.

Thanks to mikevotes at Born at the Crest of the Empire for the head's up and the inspiration.

2005/12/17

Blognonymous Says, "Merry-frickin'-Xmas"

Merry Frickin' Xmas!
Swiped with much gratitude and holiday cheer from Helen Wheels at Just Ain't Right.
Now go and read her poetry or Bill will kick your ass!

OK, Confession in Hand, It's Time To Impeach

I'm stunned. I can't believe my f*cking ears. Bush has admitted to an impeachable offense, not to his attorneys or to an administration lackey, but in public!

On Saturday, in his national radio address, Bush admitted to authorizing NSA's illegal surveillance of domestic communications, and then in a blinding bit idiocy stated that he would continue to do so as long as he remains president. Bush said:
This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security. This authorization is a vital tool in our war against the terrorists. It is critical to saving American lives. The American people expect me to do everything in my power, under our laws and Constitution, to protect them and their civil liberties and that is exactly what I will continue to do as long as I am president of the United States.
Well, I guess he will continue as long as he's president which won't be for much longer if the panty-wastes in Congress can prove that they have the cojones to deal with an admitted criminal.

The Folly of Nation Building - One View of the US

The December 1st New York Review of Books has an excellent article on how madrasas are going about the task of educating the poor in the Muslim world--a very revealing article with many insights on how the US is viewed in places like Pakistan.
We are in a good strong position. Bush has woken the entire Islamic world. We are grateful to him.

Maulana Sami al-Huq, Director of the Haqqania madrasa, Pakistan

2005/12/16

"Body in Big Bird's Nest"

Gets the coveted Blognonymous' Most Sensationalist Headline of the Week award.

And the poor woman was killed by the caretaker. Sheesh. Read all about it here.

The runner-up is E! Online's whore-of-a-post, "Body Found at Big Bird's Nest".

(Blognonymous would like it known that no muppets were harmed in the creation of this post.)

Disgusted With Politics, The North Magnetic Pole Emigrates

From the f-A-ke.P.:

Disgusted with the state of politics in the United States, the North Magnetic Pole, a staunch conservative known to hold positions for years, centuries even, has announced its intention to emigrate.

When asked why, the geomagnetic phenomenon replied:
I just can't stand it when a good man like President Bush caves in to those damn l'bruls. Him giving in to John McCain was the last straw.

I'm headed for Russia. Putin knows how to deal with the press and turncoat legislators who won't stay in line.
The pole was last seen exiting North America at a rate that will put it near Siberia within 50 to 100 years.

2005/12/15

I Spy, You Spy, Everybody Spies

This evening we've got a pair of disturbing articles describing far reaching surveillance programs that violate constitutional guarantees against unlawful searches and seizures.

First up...the NY Times (subscription required, sorry) is reporting that, in the months after 9/11, Bu$hCo authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on hundreds of Americans without court orders. At issue is the fact that NSA's charter only allows them to monitor entirely foreign communications, and the calls and emails in question originated within the US and thus would normally require FISA warrants. Moreover, the number of people under surveillance has steadily grown till it numbers in the thousands. Bu$hCo has asserted that, ..existing safeguards are sufficient to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans, while conveniently omitting that the secretive nature of the program has kept it from being tested against any of the existing safeguards.

Second, reports from NBC shed additional light on a Pentagon program that identifies and monitors anti-war protestors and organizations. The Defense Department has defended this practice with the rubric that the Pentagon has a legitimate force protection obligation within the US. Unfortunately, the list of organizations and events includes many that did not target the military. MSNBC's report includes a nifty link to excerpts from the DoD's database.

As the bullshit piles higher and deeper, the question is no longer what this administration will do under the guise of fighting terrorism but rather what Bu$hCo won't do.

Teaching Iraq the Fine Art of Prisoner Rendition

Hot on the heels of about a thousand MSM reports of prisoner rendition in Europe, we hear that the US military will:
...embed with Iraqi police commando units and other Interior Ministry forces to try to halt widespread abuses uncovered by raids on two Iraqi-run detention centers in Baghdad in the last month.
Say what? Isn't this sort of like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop?

Perhaps our embedded officers will teach the Iraqis the fine art of rendition? Yes indeed, hide those prisoners so that we don't have anymore embarrassing "Abu Graihb-like" stories.

Leon Co., Florida Throws Diebold Out - California Should Be Next

Schneier on Security and Black Box Voting are both reporting on how Leon Co., FL has dumped Diebold after security expert, Harri Hursti, successfully hacked a voting machine's memory card.

In California we're still waiting on such a test, and it's high time Secretary of State McPherson pulled his head out of his ass and got on with it.

In related news, DBK at Blanton's and Ashton's is tirelessly working to raise the visibility of H.R. 550 and could use your help with a campaign to put this issue on the air. Click on over and help out by petitioning Randi Rhodes to get H.R. 550 discussed on Air America.

2005/12/14

Bu$hCo Yanks the Rug Out From Under McCain

In a followup to yesterday's post, we now learn that when Bu$hCo can't win the day in congress, they simply do away with the rules that the opposition used as the basis for their amendment. In other words, the Pentagon's rewritten the Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation, the basis of the McCain amendment.

The NY Times reports:
The Army has approved a new, classified set of interrogation methods that may complicate negotiations over legislation proposed by Senator John McCain to bar cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees in American custody, military officials said Tuesday.

The techniques are included in a 10-page classified addendum to a new Army field manual that was forwarded this week to Stephen A. Cambone, the under secretary of defense for intelligence policy, for final approval, they said.
So, does anyone really believe that the Pentagon did this on their own? It's a slick little end run--transparent...but slick.

Guess I spoke too soon. Not only is the administration still in favor of torturing detainees, but now so is the Army, and if Bu$hCo can engineer that support in such a way that it will cause Sen. McCain maximum embarrassment, so much the better.

Thanks to Think Progress for the head's up.

[Update]

Windspike at The Educational Whisper has done us the favor of transcribing Helen Thomas sticking it to Press Secretary McClellan over the exemption issue at today's White House press briefing. Great stuff.

Lies, legends, and myths.

The Holocaust is -
...a myth that Europeans have used to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.

Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Crusades are -
...a myth that Muslim extremists use to explain 11th century gentilification of the Holy Land.

Fashiongirl
(Posted on her behalf.)

European Spy Agencies in Collusion With the CIA?

The Guardian is reporting on an pair of "bombs" that Dick Marty, the Swiss investigator of rendition allegations in Europe, dropped in his report to the Council of Europe yesterday. (I should note that these items are missing from most US reporting that I've seen.)

First the Guardian or Marty, it's not clear which, asserts that the abduction of prisoners may have been assisted by European intelligence agencies, in collusion with the CIA, but without the knowledge of their governments. Did I read that right? Seems that Europe may be experiencing their own version of COINTELPRO, and that Condi's remarks on Europeans agreeing with us on the necessity of unusual measures may have been more than just words.

Second, Marty increased the pressure on the member states by asserting that any EU member found to have assisted with extraordinary rendition "...would stand accused of having seriously breached their human rights obligations to the Council of Europe". At the same time, the British Parliament was informed by a professor of international law that failure to fully investigate the allegations by itself would break European law.

So much for Bu$hCo trying to put out this fire.

2005/12/13

The Caliphate - Another Scary Bu$hCo Bedtime Story

Administration officials are stepping up their rhetoric in order to counter the lousy perception of Bu$hCo and the Iraq War. They're warning us ign'rant citizens of the terrorist's desire to re-establish a Muslim caliphate in the Middle East. In a speech last week, Rumsfeld put it like this:
Iraq would serve as the base of a new Islamic caliphate to extend throughout the Middle East, and which would threaten legitimate governments in Europe, Africa and Asia.
Really? A caliphate? Now there's a word that doesn't get used every day.

Historically speaking, the Caliphate (though there have been others) was the Muslim empire established by the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties in the centuries after Mohammed's death. It lasted about 500 years, give or take, and was eventually overthrown when the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258.

Now this kind of talk might be funny if it weren't such steaming pile of crap! Al Qaeda? Deliver a continent spanning empire? The mind boggles. We're not talking about the 8th century here, where the Middle East is populated mostly by nomadic goat-herders and the predominant political system is tribal feudalism. Imagine Al Qaeda trying to get the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq to agree to submit to a caliphate...with Bin Laden as the Caliph! Or how about the Kurds, armed to the teeth and for the most part pretty secular!? Bwahahahahahah! Iraq is on the edge of civil war, right now. They're not going to unite under a mythical caliphate or under anyone else's leadership.

Rumsfeld, Cheney, Hadley, and Abizaid have all mentioned the caliphate in the last year, but like old crones scaring us with stories of Baba Yaga, they're trying to focus our attention on a storybook threat.

Bush Now Supports Interrogation Without Torture

President Bush said in an interview with NBC news on Monday that he was confident that the administration would be able to reach an agreement with Senator John McCain over legislative restrictions on interrogations (read as, restricting the use of torture in interrogations). Mr. Bush added:
...we want to make sure we're in a position to be able to interrogate without torture
Well Mr. President, glad to hear it.

So I guess you can tell Stephen Hadley (National Security Advisor) that further negotiations over the language of Senator McCain's amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill will no longer be necessary. Oh, and could you also tell Vice President Cheney to shut his big yapper. Thanks.

2005/12/12

Bush: "I have seen the French, and they are us."

So according to CNN, Bush will give a speech today in Philadelphia where he'll compare Iraqis to our Founding Fathers:
The president would argue that, like the Americans who gathered in Philadelphia for the constitutional convention in 1787, Iraqis are showing their resolve to govern themselves.
Say what!?

Well, I guess that as far as the war in Iraq goes, that would make us...THE FRENCH! Bwahahahahahah!

Telcos want to rig the Internet against "freeloaders".

If telcos get their way, they'll implement a "pay-for-performance" marketplace that gives preference to content providers willing to improve the bottom line. In other words if you're Google, megabucks in the bank, you'll get to pay to have your packets delivered ahead of everyone else's.

Multiple stories in the last month have alluded to this kind of thinking. For example William Smith, BellSouth's CTO, believes that they should be allowed to implement just such a system. He also likes the idea degrading the quality of, or blocking altogether, services that compete with BellSouth offerings. So Skype, as soon as BellSouth has a VoIP offering of it's own... say goodbye.

And Smith is not alone, Edward Whitacre of AT&T believes this as well, commenting recently that, "...network operators must be free to control the type and quality of service on the system in which they have invested heavily".

The consequences of pay-for-performance should be obvious. First, individual content providers--small businesses, artists, bloggers--will be frozen out of the system unless they're willing to partner, presumably for a price, with the Yahoo!'s and Google's of the world. Second, the telcos will no longer have any incentive to upgrade their systems. Why upgrade when you can control bandwidth by blocking novel new protocols and services?

In a nutshell folks, this would be he end of the Internet as we know it, and legislation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee right now may make it so.

(Updated 2006/01/17)

They're doing it. It's no longer merely an idea..

Nuclear Option Go BOOM!

Like a modern day boogeyman, Bill Frist wants to scare all the little Democrat children by threatening to use the nuclear option if they filibuster Samuel Alito's Supreme Court nomination. Frist said it again on Sunday, and presumably he'll say it for every court nominee, every appointment, in every circumstance he can.

Well I say Democrats need to show some backbone and let Frist attempt do away with judicial filibusters. The Supreme Court is poised to start feeding on the Republican base, giving Democrats an opportunity to force the court back to the left in 5 years rather than 20. In other words, Democrats need to play to win instead of acting like pansy-ass conservatives's lite.

Read more on why an Alito filibuster has to happen here.

2005/12/11

Bu$hCo's Opinion of the Constitution

From Capitol Hill Blue:
- Mr. President, there is a valid case that the provisions in this law [The USA Patriot Act] undermine the Constitution. (aide)

- Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper! (Bush)
So much for Bush's oath to uphold the Constitution.

Hat tip to The Immoral Minority.

Did Mama O'Reilly Just Not Teach Her Boy Manners?

I've tried really hard not to weigh in on this whole War on Christmas nonsense, but there is one question that just has to be asked: Bill, did you mother just forget to teach you manners, or are you really the ill-mannered lout that you appear to be?

I was taught to say "Happy Holidays," in cases where you don't know someone's religious affiliation. Why? Because it's the friggin' polite thing to do. That's why! Sure, for my in-laws it's "Merry Christmas," but for my own family--heathens all--it's "Happy Holidays".

Jeez...Bill, I mean how hard is it? Show a little deference, or is your brain so addled by the bile you spew that you can't manage to blurt out a "Happy Holidays," for your non-Christian friends. (Do you even know any Jews, agnostics, Hindus, atheists, Muslims?) Maybe you could try a "Happy Chanukah," for your Jewish friends? Who knows, it might put you in the holiday spirit, and it sounds to me like you could use it.

As it is you just sound like a bitter, ill-mannered, stupid, scrooge. In other words: "Your f**king clown-shoes!"

2005/12/09

Damn! Schwarzenegger really wants to get re-elected.

He's appointed Carol Corrigan to replace Janice Rogers Brown on the California Supreme Court. From the SF Chronicle:
Corrigan, 57, is a Republican who spent 13 years as an Alameda County prosecutor before winning judicial appointments from a series of Republican governors. Gov. George Deukmejian named her to the Alameda County Municipal Court in 1987, and Gov. Pete Wilson put her on the Superior Court bench in 1991 and then on the Court of Appeal in 1994.
Though a Republican, Corrigan is way, way, WAY more moderate that Brown. The far right is probably going to throw a fit over this.

England Falters But America Stands Firm

For years Great Britain has taken the lead in keeping tabs on it's untrustworthy citizens: Surveillance practically everywhere you look; indefinite detention without the need for formal charges; criminalizing the use of encryption. All valuable tools in fight against would-be destroyers of the Anglo-American hegemony that is the god-given right of our two great nations.

But now England has faltered at the time of greatest peril. While Condi eloquently made the case for retention and "persuasion" of the evildoers, the craven Law Lords struck, ruling that "Torture is not acceptable...," and that evidence obtained through torture is inadmissible in British courts.

America though, stands firm. Just yesterday right-thinking congressmen re-authorized that law that is patriotism's name-sake, the USA Patriot Act. [excuse me for a moment. I feel a tear coming on...OK. Better now.] Granted that the extension is only for four years, but that should be enough time to uncover all the nests of vipers in our midst, charge them, try them, and then lock them away--assuming, of course, that bastard Feingold doesn't filibuster this noble bill.

I know, we could bring the bill to floor...today. That way nobody will have time to read it. Worked before...

2005/12/08

30,000 Erroneously Matched to TSA's "No-fly" List

And here's what it means: You get singled out for special screening, and if TSA isn't satisfied what they find, you don't fly. That's what the no-fly list is about, after all. Though TSA's Redress Office does claim that, to date, no person "erroneously" matched to the list has been prevented from boarding their flight.

Want to get your name removed? Two words, you can't. Even if you submit TSA's verification documents...in triplicate...notarized (because that's the way they want it)...and wait the 45 to 60 days for TSA to approve it...and they do...they still won't remove your name. Nope. Then you're put on the special clearance list which is something they check when you get flagged for extra attention. But...can you use those convenient little unmanned kiosks that have been popping up at the larger airports? No. Can you avoid check-in altogether by carrying your bags on. No again! You get the dubious honor of having to present yourself to the gate agent every time you fly.

And finally, does TSA make their list available so that, if you're not really on it, you can avoid these hassles altogether? Again...NO! Role the dice and take your chances.

Are we having fun yet?

Economic Sunshine From Fox News

Media Matters caught Fox News' Gary Smith (also a contributor at thestreet.com) making unsubstantiated claims about American's economic well-being.
...by almost any metric, the average person in the U.S. is better off than they were four or eight years ago.
Unfortunately for Smith, data from the Census Bureau on median and average family income for families from 2000 through 2004 show exactly the opposite. In fact, by almost any measure income, even when adjusted for inflation, dropped during the period. When compounded by other factors such as the continued loss of health coverage, the picture looks even more bleak. Check out the article. Media Matter's analysis is quite thorough.

"...by almost any metric Fox News, the dependable administration shill, will continue to blow sunshine up our asses."

2005/12/07

Schwarzenegger's $81 Million Delay

Now we know how much it cost when the Governator stopped construction on the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

16 years after Loma Prieta, and the seismically unsound eastern span still hasn't been replaced. Guess if the Bay Bridge had been located in Orange County it would have been replaced with the same speed that L.A.'s freeways were rebuilt after Northridge.

You can check out that timeline here.

Sami al Arian Acquitted in Florida

For my Dept. of Justice readers ;-) ...

John Ashcroft called this poor schmuck Islamic Jihad's North American leader, but after a 6 month trial, 80 witnesses, thousands of hours of wiretap recordings going all the way back to 93, the government wasn't able to prove it. Even their best evidence, recordings of al Arian negotiating with Islamic Jihad leaders in 1994 didn't hold up when weighed against an opportunistic prosecution that started with al Arian's indictment after 9 years.

But now that he's been cleared on 8 of 17 counts, including the most serious, conspiracy to maim or commit murder (deadlocked on the others), has the government released him? Nope, their still holding him while they decide whether or not to waste more money retrying him on the deadlocked counts.

Here's a hint for the DoJ: You bungled the first case so badly maybe you should quit while you're behind, lest you make it tougher to prosecute any more decade old cases.

The Conservative Blogger's Manifesto

Starting your first conservative blog? Well good for you! We need all the conservatives we can get here in the blogsphere because, let's face it, you can't drown out the liberals unless you make a BIG NOISE! So to help you out, we here at Blognonymous have compiled some helpful hints to make your blogging as pleasant (not to mention useful to the cause) as possible:
  • Never comment on "lefty" blogs - It just legitimizes their sad and useless lives, in addition to driving up their traffic stats.

  • Never praise a Democrat, progressive, or liberal on your blog - Remember that there is only one right way to think in our blogsphere.

  • Always find something nice to say Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin - And if you're male, try to work in the notion that Ann is your ideal mate.

  • Always remember that liberals are idiots and tell them so every chance you get - Try ending each post with "Oh, and by the way, liberals are idiots."

  • Try to work Bill Clinton to every discussion - Remember that sexual transgressions are way more interesting than WMDs.

  • But, when a liberal brings up Bill Clinton, Ken Starr, etc... - Haughtily inform them that this is ancient history, and if they ever want to be in power again, they better get over it.

  • Liberals can't reason, so don't bother trying - Ad hominem attacks always provide more fireworks and increase your traffic.

  • Always engage conservatives in constructive dialogue. Be polite, and thank them for their comments - They're on our side after all.

  • However, if a liberal somehow manages to make a reasonable, polite comment... change the subject - Nobody wants to hear what liberals think anyway.

  • When liberals argue with facts, counter with morals - After all, morals come straight from God Almighty. So you don't have to defend them. (Thanks to Mike @ Can of Worms)

  • Every week, try to create at least one post on how much better off this country would be if there were no liberals

  • Don't even read lefty blogs - KOS may have beaten us to the top, but it's still our Blogsphere!
Follow these simple rules, and were sure that you'll be on your way to becoming a "Large, taloned, red-blooded, meat-eating predator," in the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem in no time.

The Dept. of Justice Surfed Blognonymous Yesterday


Twice. What does it mean? Didn't a famous person once say, "I'm not paranoid. Everyone really is out to get me."?

2005/12/06

Force Accountability on Diebold, Support H.R. 550

I've blogged before on Diebold's attempt to circumvent California's voting-machine certification process, which would be a crippling blow to vote accountability in this state. But there is one additional line of defense--legislation before Congress that would mandate a verifiable paper trail.

According to VerifiedVoting.org, H.R. 550, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2005, sponsored by Rush Holt (D. NJ) is the Gold Standard of a swarm of bills currently before congress. But this bill needs your help to get it out of committee where it's languished since March. Go here and add your name to the petition supporting this bill.

Californians especially need this legislation, since our Republican administration is trying their damnedest to circumvent the public commentary process in order to allow Diebold back into this state. Take action now.

Law enforcement gets to veto your software.

I saw something about this FCC ruling in early October but forgot to blog about it until seeing this article on Bruce Schneier's blog.

Bluntly stated, you get to run the software or use the services you want, "subject to the needs of law enforcement". That's right campers, with no legislative or judicial oversight, the executive has achieved for the FBI what they could not achieve in the mid-90's when they tried to mandate back-doors in communication and encryption products. Want to use Skype with encryption or maybe PGPfone? Not unless the FBI approves and can tap it, a position that was actually confirmed by an FCC spokesperson back in September.

2005/12/05

A Simple Holid--uh--Christmas Question

Why do conservatives, especially neo-cons and witless talking heads, consider secularism to be bad for the US but good for Iraq?

Rice to Europe: "The end justifies the means."

So now we know how Condeleezza Rice is going to address the growing firestorm in Europe over secret prisons and CIA transport flights. She dropped the bomb this morning just before leaving the US, saying that:
The intelligence so gathered has stopped terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives -- in Europe as well as in the United States and other countries
She also remarked that she's not at liberty to discuss information that would,"compromise the success of intelligence, law enforcement, and military operations." And she concluded with the expectation that other nations share this view.

Translation: "The end justifies the means. We know what's best for you on this issue, so trust us, and stop talking about it as I don't intend to discuss it further."

Yup. This is going to be a great trip for the Sec. of State.

Stabilizing Iraqi Cities, Charity? Job Creation?

Stacy over at Cafe Politico dug this interesting tidbit out of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq. Seems Bu$hCo is going to make a cool billion available to help "stabilize" Iraq. The USAID has this on their website:
The United States Agency for International Development is seeking applications for an Assistance Agreement from qualified sources to design and implement a social and economic stabilization program impacting ten Strategic Cities, identified by the United States Government as critical to the defeat of the Insurgency in Iraq. The number of Strategic Cities may expand or contract over time. USAID plans to provide approximately $1,020,000,000 over two years to meet the objectives of the Program.
Yes indeed, you are reading this right! Bu$hCo is going to subcontract the stabilizing of 10 Iraqi cities because...I suppose...they haven't been so successful at doing it themselves.

Personally, I think that this is more charity for Bu$hCo's favorite partner, Halliburton. Or perhaps it's an attempt to boost employment. I mean after all, the administration needs 15 more months of solid employment growth to replace the jobs lost in the first term.

Go USAID, but please don't call it "offshoring".

2005/12/04

BART subtly discouraging transit riders.

Noticed this when it happened to me last Friday. Bay Area Rapid Transit has discontinued the $30 "high-value" pass (gives you $32 of value using BART's paltry 6.25% discount). In fact, BART mentioned this on their website in early November -
BART riders have consistently commented that higher value discount tickets are more convenient and better accommodate their travel needs. The $48 high value ticket and $64 high value ticket will continue to be available.
You know what I say, BULLSHIT! Most riders don't buy $30.00 tickets, save for one group, Commuter-check users. $30.00 is the most frequently issued denomination. Commuter-check users don't have control over what they're given, and BART gives no refunds if you overpay with the checks. All of this adds up to money savings for BART, already one of the most expensive and, at the same time, stingiest transit systems in the nation.

All I can say is that this is not helping to encourage cagers to give up their cars.

Wagering Industrial Complex

The Last Honest Place In America by Marc Cooper, recently reviewed in the The Atlantic, has some sobering statistics on gambling in America. The most interesting tidbits include these:
  • There are now twice as many electronic gambling devices in the US (slots, video-poker, and the like...) as ATMs.
  • One in four Americans will visit a casino this year.
  • One in four adults lists gambling as their favorite form of entertainment.
  • Gamblers make an average of 6 visits a year to casinos or other gambling establishments.
  • Americans spend more on slot machines per year than they do on movie tickets.
I think we need to coin a new term for an industry that rakes in $48 billion per year. How about the Wagering Industrial Complex

2005/12/03

New Information on CIA Flights Spells Trouble for Condi

The BBC is reporting that German air traffic controllers have handed over lists of flights suspected of being operated by the CIA, not all of which landed at the US base at Ramstein. If any of these flights are discovered to have carried prisoners being spirited to the alleged prisons in Eastern Europe, the heat on Bu$hCo is going to get much more intense.

This is going to place Condoleezza Rice in a very difficult position when she travels to Europe next week, especially considering that her job there is to do damage control by getting the Europeans to shut up about the prisons. But this also spells potential trouble for the German government in light of EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner, Franco Frattini's threats of last week.

The plot thickens...

2005/12/02

Death Penalty Opposition - Always The Wrong Damn Reason

The 1000th execution took place last night. Stanley "Tookie" Williams, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of the Crips, is scheduled to die on Dec. 13th but might still receive clemency from Governor Schwarzenegger. Support for capital punishment is waning. Blah, blah, blah...

Headlines like these galvanize death penalty opponents, but almost without exception they give the wrong reason for their opposition. Some talk about cruel and unusual punishment. But you know what, life in prison is no picnic. Others point to the tragedy of an innocent person being put to death, though a country willing to have the death penalty damn well better expect that some innocent people will be killed. Still others point to the US's unique position among western democracies, but...no surprises here: Support for the death penalty runs upward of 70% in this country.

There is one reason though, that should unite opponents, as well as supporters, against the death penalty--a reason that cuts across all political, social, economic, and racial boundaries. Bluntly stated it is this: Governments simply cannot be trusted to decide what constitutes a capital crime because that power has been abused throughout history. Today it's murder, but tomorrow it might be public indecency.

Moreover, some criminals just deserve to die. Not out of revenge, or a sense that we need to protect society from predators, but because their crimes are so heinous that death is the only reasonable punishment. But for what crimes? Genocide? Sure. Murder? Yup. Rape? Maybe. Treason? That's a little tougher, I think. How about sodomy? Adultery? Sedition? Graft? There is not a single crime I listed that you cannot be sentenced to death for somewhere in the world, right now!

Death penalty opponents need to stop trying to sway the other side with humanitarian arguments. The only argument that can stick is based on the notion that our government cannot be trusted to decide what crimes are "death-worthy".

Pat Robertson Squeezes Out Another Rhetorical Turd

Pat Robertson's Private MomentFrom a conversation with FOX News' John Gibson on the November 30th 700 Club broadcast:
If you haven't got a Democratic nominee who can be called Bubba, you're not going to get him in office. You're not going to get a New England liberal, no way! Black folks aren't going to vote for people like that.
Gibson apparently thought this was funny, and frankly so do I but probably not for the same reason.

Thanks to Media Matters for the transcription.

2005/12/01

CDC Says - "All your trips are belong to us"

Haven't seen much coverage of this in the MSM or the Blogs, but the Centers for Disease Control is preparing to mandate the gathering of personal information on an unprecedented scale.

Under the guise of preparing to combat a pandemic, CDC wants to force airlines to track...well...everything about you and your travels and to make the data available in databases that CDC would have direct access to. In fact, the information they want eclipses what is currently gathered by the Dept. of Homeland Security and includes:
* First, last and middle names, in addition to suffixes.
* Current home address, including street, apartment number, city, state/province and ZIP code.
* Mobile, home or pager phone numbers.
* E-mail address.
* Passport or travel document, including the issuing country or organization.
* Traveling companions or group.
* Flight information, including date, airline, flight number and return flight details.
* Name, address and phone number of an emergency contact.
Now imagine, if you can without barfing, an overzealous Bu$hCo Justice Dept. going to CDC and saying, "We want all of your records on every individual that flew into New York in the 5 days before the Republican National Convention." Think that can't happen? Well CDC claims that they'll apply "rigorous" privacy standards to the data, but when it comes to another federal agency, one armed with a FISA investigation warrant, don't bet on that data staying private...not for one minute.

A New Cell Phone Scourge - Calls from the Crapper

I don't know if this is happening where you live, but I've noticed a new low in bad cell phone behavior: Calls from the crapper-what might be referred to as the Potty Call.

It happens like this, some idiot who can't stand to be off his cell, not even for one minute, enters the men's, whips out his pecker, and takes a piss, all the while continuing to blab on his phone. Can you believe this!? A call that is sooooo important that you can't even put the callee on hold while you do your business!

What must the poor schmuck on the other end think? Gee what's that sudden echo? Or maybe, Do I hear rushing water? I've even seen some of these bozos whip out their cell just before they enter the toilet stall!

Well I say we need to put a stop to this! How about cell jammers installed in urinals? Or the next time you see one of these guys--dick in hand, RAZR to ear--shout out, "Dude!? Do you hold your phone with that hand?"

If we don't act now, you'll soon see the Verizon nerd in the men's. "Can you hear me piss? Goooood!"